Cough. Splutter. Cough. Evening Standard backs congestion charging

I’m agog, the Evening Standard wants to keep 30,000 cars out of London partly in order to protect newbie cyclists!

THE Mayor is expected to announce his decision on whether to keep the western congestion charge zone within days: as we report today, the issue is dividing London councils. Hammersmith and Fulham council is at loggerheads with Kensington and Chelsea over the western extension’s future.

Hammersmith regards the zone as creating a “Berlin wall” which divides one part of the borough from the other, and is worried about the effect on local businesses. The Royal Borough, meanwhile, says its residents like the reduction in traffic the charge has brought.

But this question has to be looked at from a London-wide perspective. The western extension was inevitably unpopular when introduced. However, to remove it now and allow 30,000 cars a day back in would be a retrograde step. It would force many cyclists back onto public transport, increase car commuting and congestion, and worsen air quality. At a time of pressure on budgets, the Mayor will not want to do without the revenue the zone raises. The solution is to modify the charge so that it still deters car commuters but ends in the middle of the day to allow access to shops and businesses.